Friday, June 17, 2011

Moving Pigs-A Two Day Adventure

At the beginning of the week we sent our second batch of pigs to the butcher.  They are now turning into delicious cuts of pork.  On a conventional pig farm sending pigs to the butcher is a pretty straight forward event.  All your pigs are already in a confined space and there are walkways and systems set up in order to load them right onto a trailer. 

Things are quite different here on our farm.  First of all the pigs are out on pasture and as they get bigger we continue to give them more and more space to run around.  These pigs had an electric fence keeping them in on about 1 acre of land so getting all 6 of them into a small area and loaded onto the trailer was not necessarily going to be a smooth undertaking.  We built a small fenced area and put some feed on the ground inside it and got the pigs to walk in here.  Next we backed up the trailer and made the opening of the trailer part of the fenced in area.    The challenge ahead is that pigs are not the most acrobatic of creatures and they would have to step upwards in order to get onto the trailer.  We build steps for them.  Three of them got on the trailer and we took them over to the barn thinking we would come back for the other three which wee still inside the small fence.  When we returned the pigs were nowhere to be seen.  They had found a way out of the small fenced area and returned to their large fenced area.  We would have to catch them in there and wait for them to get in again.  We thought this should wait for the next day as they had experienced enough excitement for one day.  The next day we tried it again and Kevin managed to back up the trailer right to a large mound in the ground so that the step was not necessary.  The trailer was something new and interesting to the pigs and they wanted to check it out.  They walked on and off and back on again and we waited patiently.  The most important thing is that they do not find this experience to be stressful so patience on our part is very important.  Finally there were two pigs on the trailer and one with its front feet on the trailer, unsure if it could make the next step.  Kevin got behind the pig and tried to encourage it to go on the trailer.  Finally he picked up its back legs and gave it a little push.  We closed the doors. 

All six pigs spent the night in the barn and the next day they got right on the trailer to go to the butcher.  We were happy to see the process go smoothly and be stress free for us and for the animals.  This also means more pork in the freezers soon and more healthy meat for you!  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Eggmobile Down

Our farm sees its fair share of wind.  The land is open, there are woods lining the edges of the farm but mostly it is exposed and sits on top of a small hill.  It is hard to describe how windy it can get.  On Wednesday the farm  experienced the largest gust of wind we have ever seen here. 

Eggmobile earlier this spring

Most of Wednesday was hot and sunny, with temperatures above 90 degrees.  We spent the day transplanting in the field.  Towards the end of the day as we were close to the end of planting the cherry tomatoes, which we have been anxious to get into the ground, the weather took a dramatic turn.  Loading the last of the tomatoes onto the trailer to take them out to the field we began to see lightning.  As the storm grew closer we made a dash inside to wait out the storm. 

Right after we got inside a gust of wind and rain whipped across the farm, accompanied by claps of thunder and lightning.  Our neighbors in the field next to us had been making hay all day and they were stuck in the middle of the storm, waiting it out in their truck, trying to race the rain to get the hay off the ground that they had spent all day cutting.  The wind tore across the land, whipping around in a circular motion.  A minute later it was over.  I spent the whole storm anxiously watching the cold frame, where I keep all the transplants right before they go out in the field.  Nothing seemed to budge, except for the empty containers that we had just brought back from planting. 

It seemed the farm had stood up to the wind just fine.  It was still thundering out so I figured I would start to make dinner.  Then the phone rang.  “Hello Margaret, do you know that your chicken house is on its side?”  On its side? I thought, impossible.  The egg mobile is 8 x 18 x 7 feet.  It is a hen house on wheels so that the chickens can be moved to fresh pasture regularly.  It houses all of our egg laying chickens.  We went to go check it out.  Sure enough the whole thing was on it side.  The chickens were all running around eating and drinking.  They seemed to have not been phased by the event.  I thought that it was going to be impossible to get the thing back up.  We went and got some rope, tied it to the hen house and to the tractor and decided to give it a go.  I thought to myself, there is no way this thing is going to budge. Our tractor is not very big.  Kevin backed the tractor up and miraculously the egg mobile began to move.  I wrapped another rope around my hips to try to soften the tipping and be sure that it did not just keep going and tip over on its other side.  There was some wobbling and then the egg mobile was back on its wheels.  It was getting dark.  The chickens began to walk inside to go to sleep.          


Monday, June 6, 2011

Bustling into June

Hello everyone!  Just wanted to check in and say we are still here moving forward.  We had our first CSA distribution day on Sunday in Hebron and Cambridge and are getting geared up for the next one tomorrow on the farm in Pittsford and in Middlebury.

Hoeing Baby Lettuce

Stay tuned for pictures from our first CSA distributions!